Many believed that 2019 would be the year the Texas Longhorns finally brought the Big 12 title back to Austin. Many thought that this could be the year that the Horns were finally in the College Football Playoff conversation well into November.
Those aspirations are looking pretty grim after the 37-27 loss to the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday afternoon, their second conference loss and third overall — Texas will have to win out if they have any hopes of making the conference championship game, and even then, they will need help from elsewhere to get in. Here are the grades on how the Longhorns performed in three components of the game Saturday afternoon.
Stop the run
TCU was able to rush for 161 yards on 39 carries, only 15 yards more than the success threshold of 150 yards set earlier in the week. The Horns held the Horned Frogs well under their season average of 5.3 yards per carry, allowing only four yards per rush on the afternoon. Furthermore, Texas did not allow a single rush of more than 20 yards in the game. While they did not perform up to the standard set for them, they were extremely close.
Game grade: B+
Pressure and Protect
Texas was able to pressure Duggan when they wanted to on Saturday afternoon. Sam Ehlinger was pressured at times, as well, but for the most part, had time to read the defense and make a play. The problem was, TCU’s defense swarmed the Texas receivers for most of the game, making it difficult for the Texas quarterback to find anywhere to go with the ball. At the end of the day, Texas was able to force two sacks, while only giving up one. That should be good enough for a passing grade, despite the fact that Texas was unable to come away with the win.
Game grade: B-
Win the turnover battle
Sam Ehlinger had thrown three interceptions this season coming into the game. He more than doubled that number on Saturday afternoon, giving up the ball to the opponent four times. Texas was able to force two turnovers, with a first-quarter interception by Brandon Jones and a fumble recovery forced on a kickoff. A minus-two turnover differential is extremely difficult to overcome, especially when playing a Power 5 opponent on the road.
Game grade: F
Despite the disappointing loss, Texas played a better game than they did last week against Kansas. They won in all of the meaningful statistical categories, with the exception of the two most important, penalties and turnovers.
TCU was able to extend a drive after a third down stop due to a roughing the passer call. That drive resulted in a touchdown. Additionally, four pointes were taken off the board when Colin Johnson’s touchdown reception was called back for pass interference on a drive which ultimately resulted in a field goal.
Texas did give up a few big pass plays defensively, but those plays came against an extremely thin defensive secondary, with a true freshman third string safety on the field and multiple players not in their natural position. Despite all of that, the defense played well for most of the game, although the young players were out of position on a few key pass plays that ultimately made the difference in the game. Its rare that a Texas team could earn a passing grade after losing to an unranked, four-loss opponent, but that is exactly what happened Saturday afternoon.
Game grade: C